|Meditation for the Month|
An awareness of the fact that there is a God must bring about the realisation that we have a duty towards Him.
Even Pagans in their worship brought gifts to their gods (though the motive may be fear), this is so because man realises the need of dedicating to God some part of their substance.
Whilst the bringing of gifts by pagans is motivated contrary to what God requires, Christians withhold from God what is due to Him through ignorance and selfishness.
By this act the Christian loses the blessings of prosperity, sometimes even with the excuse we are not under law but under grace. A reminder of a previous study (Galatians: not under law?) the fact was highlighted that the laws from which grace has set us free are not found in commandments/statutes and judgements but in the ordinances (rituals or sacrificial laws of worship). The ordinances were added at Mt Sinai to be the method by which God taught His people in order to bring them to Christ. When Christ came these laws (the ordinances) were nailed to the cross, setting men free from the laws of ritual, by the grace of God. No Christian simply because he is under grace, commit adultery, kill, steal, no ways – he is bound by the requirements of these commandments. He keeps them because of the love of Christ, he is not bound by compulsion, but love – it is therefore love that moves the Christian to keeping the law (commandments/statues with its judgments).
Jesus said that except your righteousness (keeping of the law) shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven, meaning that the Christian must be more thorough in keeping the law than had been the case of the Pharisees and scribes. They observed the laws of giving and all other outward actions, but had no inward desire to keep it. See to the more important matters of the law (love, mercy, faith) but do not neglect the others … keep all the requirements of the law. Malachi asks if it is possible to rob God , and he refers to the tithes and offerings, and that the people were cursed through lack of prosperity. The do no see the need to serve God and their low state of spirituality is reflected by the question they asked …in vain we serve God and what profit is it that we keep his ordinances? Note what God says to them …bring ye ALL the tithes …and this is a call not only to the individual but to the nation (all) …for you have robbed me, even this whole nation. Read what happens when the nation restores the whole tithing, which includes the Israel method of taxation.
First of all we will determine the maximum amount set for taxes (tithes) that can be collected, for unless some bounds are set, the right to tax carries with it power to destroy. Today we see taxes based on governmental needs instead of the tithes, the tithe does not allow a man’s property (both personal and real estate) to be included. Ignoring the law of tithing, excess taxation is destroying the financial independence of individuals, confiscating the property of many, running the business of others, and enslaving the rest of us. Instead of the government existing to serve the people, the people exist to support government, and such conditions will only lead to tyranny and oppression. It is a matter of history that excess taxation has led to revolts, revolution and often resulted in the assassination of high government officials. Taxes (tithes) must be paid by the people out of their income and from their increase, regardless of the type of property against which they are levied. Any government that institutes excessive taxation is systematically destroying the income of its people, ultimately finds itself compelled to devise more ways to raise taxes to meet the needs of a government facing the dwindling income of its people. The tithe (from which the tax system comes) was the method of taxation established in Israel, while the word means tenth, this does not limit the return to only a tenth of the income of its people.
The Bible refers to three distinct tithes, and when taken over a period of years amount to about a fifth of a man’s income or increase. God introduced a system in Israel where there were no tax levies made against property (whatever a man owned), but only on his income/increase, therefore when a man ceased to earn and failed to have any increase, he paid no taxes. His possessions were free from confiscation and he could live and enjoy them though his earnings had ceased. (today a man is still taxed, and unemployed, unable to meet his tax levies, his property is confiscated and he may end upon the poor farm .. civilisation) The first tithe the Bible refers to was levied upon the increase in seed, crops, fruit of the trees, cattle and goods … this tithe is declared Holy unto God collected by the Levites. They administered the affairs of state and was instructed to give one tenth of the tithe to the Aaronic order of priesthood for religious purposes, with the balance nine tenths being used for kingdom activities (the place where they lived, community). Reminder that God’s leaders who ruled His people were judge, jury, teachers, statesmen all in one, they were also the government of the day, seeing to the city and its upkeep as provided by the nine tenths of this tithe. One tenth of the tithe was given for religious purposes … the church .. and this need to be true until this very day, prompting the question, in view of what the government takes as tax from our income/increase, has the church a right to demand a tenth of our increase?
The second tithe was taken to be used in a thanksgiving feast, taken from the nine tenths that you have left of your increase and it is a yearly thanksgiving feast also proving for the journey to Jerusalem.
The third tithe taken every three years was to be used in the community to provide for the Levites and the strangers, the poor of which the omission thereof brought condemnation -Is 10 During the other two years provision was made for the poor by the law of gleaning In addition their was the tithe of the flock by allowing them to pass under the rod as they went to pasture (Lev 27:32), as well as the poll tax when Israel was numbered (census) Ex 30:12-16 of which the money was used in the service of the Lord which would be in carrying on the affairs of the kingdom. In addition to all the tithes and to the poll tax which were legally required to be paid under law, there were free will offerings to be given.
The Bible providing the perfect system of giving and taxation which, instead of impoverishing a people, assures prosperity and contentment for the nation .. tithing is mandatory on the individual and the nation with blessings to both. Irrespective of what the nation did the law of tithing was recognised from Adam, Cain, Abel, Shem, Jacob to Jesus … it is minimum we owe to God out of our increase. Therefore a fifth of our increases covers our financial obligations to God and to the Kingdom, and provided for all other taxes except the poll tax. The early Church practised tithing in systematic giving laying aside according as the Lord had prospered them, and surely we can do no less that the early Church Fathers and patriarchs. It is only in keeping of the law of tithing that the fulfilment of the promise of material blessings will be realised in our lives, no man can afford to tithe, neither can he afford not to tithe. God will not be a debtor to any man and he who tithes will find that God will return to him full measure, keeping His promise of providing for those who honour Him. There may be a period of testing when a man starts to tithe, But His promises will not fail. No man can afford not to tithe, because of God’s promises for God will certain give him the returns for his faithfulness. When the day comes when the nation keeps the law, then the vexatious problem of taxation will be solved forever, and the administrators will live within their income which will be a percentage of the increase of the people. The people will be able to pay all the tithes without hardship, for God will pour out a blessing of real prosperity upon the nation when they keep all His laws. If we are going to tithe, let us ensure that the tithe is being used IN SERVICE OF THE LORD in order to be eligible for the blessings as set forth by Malachi
Agape - like Jesus Christ
Romans 7:17 Paul mentions something that we've been looking at from only one direction ... I do the things that I do not want to do.....
The Greek makes not mistake when talking about love .. they have about three or more different words for it. The one I would like to concentrate on is AGAPE. This love is not brotherly, not that of parents or even a love that a man has for a woman. This kind of love is the love that Jesus Christ displays.
When Paul talks about doing what I do not what to do, then this is exactly it. The love of Christ compels us to love those we would naturally not love. When somebody deserves to be hated by us for the things he/she has done unto us, it is then that AGAPE takes over. It forces us to love that which we naturally cannot. You may have all the reasons to hate, all the reasons to ignore, but this love of Christ that is in you, when you are born again, controls you, and forces you to turn the other cheek.
This is what makes us say .. I love you for the sake of the Lord. It is because you love Jesus so much that you cannot afford to hate. This love that has been imparted to you via the spirit, is now the driving force in your life. Have you reached that stage where you can naturally love others in spite of their attitude towards you. When Christ kept quiet whilst He was being mocked and insulted, it was AGAPE that controlled Him. His love for His brothers and sisters was far stronger than the hatred (even though justified)
Paul says I am the master of my own body, I do not do any shadow-boxing. Can, because of the AGAPE in you, you control the vengeful feelings that wants to control you? Shadow-boxing .... I am not playing at fighting an enemy, I toil and struggle to achieve victory from day to day. Far too many of us are still playing at being Christians and the real enemy stands afar, laughing at us, because we are still in control of our feelings. Pray that God really sends His love ( AGAPE ) in you that you may live a victorious life. It is possible, because with God, nothing is impossible. .. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this meditation
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